Addressing graduates at Bowie State University, a historically black college in Maryland, First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday said the reason more African-American children don’t go to college is because they’re lazy:
“Instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.”
Now, I ain’t black. I am, in fact, painfully white. That said, I do have access to some facts, courtesy the October 2012 study, “Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress,” as reported by The New York Times:
¶ Among male high school dropouts born between 1975 and 1979, 68 percent of blacks (compared with 28 percent of whites) had been imprisoned at some point by 2009, and 37 percent of blacks (compared with 12 percent of whites) were incarcerated that year.
¶ By the time they turn 18, one in four black children will have experienced the imprisonment of a parent.
¶ More young black dropouts are in prison or jail than have paying jobs. Black men are more likely to go to prison than to graduate with a four-year college degree or complete military service.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I am not at all confident this metaphor works but I’d say it’s the mass-incarceration chicken. If kids aren’t going to college, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it has less to do with Nas and the Playstation 3 than it does with one or more of their parents being imprisoned, the lack of good job opportunities in America’s urban centers, and the absolute shit secondary schools that the urban poor often have no choice to attend.
Curiously, though, it appears the president’s wife would rather blame black culture than the institutionalized racism that manifests itself in mass incarceration and an official unemployment rate nearly twice that faced by whites. The notion that black children are too busy basketballin’ and hip-hoppin’ and shit must poll better.